Even though the title of What the Hell Did I Just Read is self-referential in the same the previous novel was (This Book is Full of Spiders), I still kept reading expecting some sort of arcane book to play a part in the story.
Don’t be dumb like me. The only book is the novel itself, the third adventure of David, John and Amy, twenty-somethings living in Undisclosed, a small town beset by supernatural as well as super gross manifestations.
Like the previous entries, What the Hell Did I Just Read is filled with weird (Batmantis???) and gruesome (giant squirming larvae) monsters that the would-be heroes must stop before the town and possibly the universe itself is destroyed.
It’s more fun than it sounds.
The story starts with a child kidnapping and as the saying goes, things escalate quickly, with seemingly immortal not-government agents, a biker gang and others tossed together as an unceasing storm threatens to sweep the town away in a devastating flood.
Jason Pargin, going under the pen name David Wong, does his usual excellent job juggling all of the elements while tossing in regular dollops of absurdist humor. There are even a few serious moments of personal growth for some of the characters. But only a few. Mostly it’s dildo guns, silicone butts, dimensions of endless despair and children who may not be quite as they appear.
My only real disappoint with the story is how it builds to a climax that never really happens. Sure, stuff happens but not necessarily what you’d expect, although you could argue that’s not necessarily a bad thing, either. It’s open-ended when I was not expecting it to be open-ended. Maybe Pargin wanted to leave room for a direct sequel, because who can’t get enough of giant squirming larvae that could potentially destroy the world?
This is an easy recommendation for anyone who enjoyed the first two Books (the first being John Dies at the End). For anyone else who is not averse to some well-written and occasionally gross-out horror with tongue in/through cheek, it’s still a solid recommendation (though you should still read all three in order for maximum effect).